tv Political Capital With Al Hunt Bloomberg April 19, 2014 12:00am-12:31am EDT
>> this week on "political capital," former secretary of defense william cohen on ukraine. rich miller and julie bykowicz on janet yellen. julianna goldman on joe biden's trip. margaret carlson and ramesh ponnuru on gay marriage. and ted cruz versus rand paul. we begin with former secretary of defense william cohen. thank you for being with us. there were some signs of easing. they signed the communiqué. are you optimistic?
>> i would like to be but we need to look at what president putin has done and his declared intentions. he has been speaking as if the eastern part of ukraine is already part of russia. he has talked about the new russia. in his mind, there will be over time some federalization of ukraine which would mean the hollowing out of that government and reducing the ability of the government to really have a coherent state that they can control. i think that is his ultimate goal. he will continue to have his forces on the border and continue to agitate. the united states and the west really is at a disadvantage. >> not much we can do other than sending forces over. will sanctions have an impact? >> they are having a major impact already.
i would covertly or quietly propose to the russians that we have a whole series of additional sanctions we are prepared to put into effect that would require the europeans to support us on that but even absent that support, i would indicate very strongly what we are prepared to do even on a unilateral basis. to send a signal that your behavior trying to go back to the future and taking us back of the future will be unacceptable and you will pay the price for it. >> do you think the europeans and merkel will go along? >> this is a defining moment for nato and for the eu. if they are unwilling to bear the responsibility of meeting this challenge, they're likely to see a repetition of the past with putin becoming more aggressive, more russian unrest
in various other countries including the baltics, an effort to destabilize those countries where there are russian populations. the germans and the europeans don't want to go back there. there's a way to prevent that from taking place and that means being willing to belly up to the bar, so to speak, and take actions that will send a signal that we will not let you turn the clock back and we are not going back to where the soviet union tactics were being played out under the russian flag. >> i gather you think is likely to keep that pressure on rather than militarily invade. is there a case for the sanctions to provide some type of lethal arms to kiev? they say would be provocative and that they would be outmanned. >> i don't think we should provide any type of military assistance unless we are prepared to fully back the government of ukraine. let's not make this a repetition of syria where we declare that assad had to go, but did nothing to help assad go.
the rebels thought that we were behind them and they look behind and we were not there. i think it would be a mistake to raise the expectations of the ukrainians that we are with them and then they find as the fighting takes place that we are not there with them. we have to be very careful with that. if we say we are prepared to provide weaponry, intelligence, special forces activity, western forces, nato forces, i think you could make a case for providing weaponry. then you will have an excuse to say that we were arming the government to resist the lawful protesters that he's been aspiring. >> you have spent time with vladimir putin. describing a chilling scene at the munich security conference when he was invited right out of the cold war. how do you read him today? >> from his perspective, it is
quite rational. we are in a unique decision right now. the europeans and the gulf states think that we are leaving. they think that we are not coming and the chinese think we are trying to contain them. it's the worst of all possible in terms of foreign policy and putin looks at that and sees the united states has been weakend not only by the president's policies, but by congress policies, but by congress itself. they have a role here because there is great division on capitol hill in terms of the role in the united states in this new world of disorder. are we going to be leading from the front, behind, disengage? you can see that playing out in the budget itself where we are cutting but others, chinese, russians, others, are increasing their budgets significantly and that all conveys a sense that the united states is pulling back from global affairs. whether the perception is correct or not is not really the issue. if the perception is there a can
create a very dangerous dynamic. >> it gives us diminished leverage. >> many of our allies are looking at us and saying they are not sure they can count on us. >> is that more than it's been in the past? >> i think that's the case because if the look at what japan is now saying and doing, they are increasing their own budget for the first time, the defense budget. they are relaxing in terms of allowing their own defense industry to contribute to the united states and others. you are seeing questions raised even in south korea where they would like to enrich uranium on their own. there's a question about whether the united states can be relied upon to provide protection as they have in the past as they look to the congressional debate seeing that we are divided. >> barack obama calls and asks you what we can do to change the perception. is there anything? >> we can have a meeting with capitol hill. the american people don't see
what we're doing, but we are in the process of reducing the size of it significantly and even hollowing out the military because the way it has been done there has been a brief hiatus granted for the next two years. in 2016, the sequester comes back into effect and that would be devastating to our ability to carry out the mission assigned. >> let me switch to the middle east and particularly the iranian nuclear talks. are you optimistic or pessimistic that anything will occur? what are the consequences either way? >> that's a question they raise themselves. having given up its nuclear weapons in a deal that was supposed to guarantee their independence, we now see their independence being rolled back by russia. i think it sends a message to
the iranians and others that maybe we better hold onto what we have or try to get what we don't. >> that makes you pessimistic about a deal. let me ask you one political question. you were a three term member of the house of representatives as a republican, a three term senator as a republican. any of those potential presidential candidates out there in your party that interest you or excite you? >> i know jeb bush well and i like him a lot. i think he would be a great candidate to appeal to the broad spectrum of the american people. he may have some difficulty getting through a primary if he decides to run. but if the republican party looks at winning instead of appealing to the narrower base of the republican right, jeb bush would be the kind of candidate that i think could get broad support. >> bill cohen, thanks for being with us today. when we return, biden to ukraine and an update on major campaign cash next. ♪
>> welcome back. this segment is about money. rich miller, chief economic correspondent, will tell us about janet yellen's plans at the federal reserve and julie bykowicz is telling us about all of the campaign money coming in. janet yellen gave a very important speech earlier this week. what did we learn? >> it's a philosophy that any
subway rider could be familiar with -- mind the gap. she's got two goals, the further, the bigger the gap, the longer we will stay with interest rates at zero. >> ever since the 1970's, the fed has had a dual mandate so she is just continuing that. some fed chairman have cared more about one than the other. yellen seems to worry right now more about unemployment. bernanke did in his later years also. >> inflation is not above her target but below your target. she laid out three challenges -- three questions that she needs to think about as we go forward. she did not take the passover four questions. how much slack is there in the labor market?
she says it's a lot. the second is inflation but not that it is too high but too low. and the third, what will it not be a recovery of? all three show what you are saying. she's very concerned about unemployment and not worried at all about it except that it's too low. >> do any of the inflation hawks now even worry about somehow inflation coming back? >> you had marty feldstein, a harvard professor, and at one point mentioned that a potential fed chair in a republican administration and he asked janet yellen about inflation and what they would do about inflation if it went above target. he is worried that as the economy starts to pick up, he wanted to get her on the record saying that she is to two-sided. right now, she does not see it
as a risk at all. >> no one sees inflation going above 2% for the foreseeable future. is that fair to say? >> no one who is not predisposed to see it already. >> is she relatively optimistic? >> they were scared when we have the slowdown in the first quarter but kept saying it was all about weather. the indicators since the weather has gotten better seem to point to that we are picking up. jobless claims and claims for unemployment benefits are back to 2007 levels. housing is the one spot that's a little soft but manufacturing is picking up. >> housing is getting better. >> not as much as people had hoped. >> rich, she's been in the job for a little over two months. we have any sense of what yellen is like as a leader at the fed? >> she's very methodical, very
prepared. i think you hit home that she's passionate especially about the waste in unemployment. she gave a speech a few weeks ago where she was very personal about how heartfelt she was. she made a little of the mistake citing three people who have been unemployed for a while in giving that speech and turned out two of them had criminal records so that was a little bit of a problem. >> she needs a better researcher. julie let me ask you about the other side of money, campaign cash. what is first quarter telling us about this year? >> everyone will have plenty of money getting right into the heart of campaign season ahead of the november elections and already, as people in the most
important states for the senate race can tell you, there is a flood of television advertising going on. one trend we are seeing reflective of the growth and outside groups is that billionaires are investing in their own concept super pacs. >> the koch brothers are the most famous, but you also wrote about another group, the guy who owns a chicago baseball team trying to get others who support billionaires. >> that's one way of looking at it. they support small government and less regulation, but this is joe ricketts, the founder of ameritrade. his family also is the majority owner of the chicago cubs. they have a group called ending spending which they've had for about four years but only recently have started trying to reach out to other wealthy donors to attract investors for the super pac. fundraising reports show that they have been somewhat successful landing two
billionaire hedge fund chiefs, paul singer and seth klarman, familiar names, have given to the super pac. >> they are advertising on behalf of republican candidates in some senate races. >> is there any good news for the democrats when you look at those figures at least comparatively? >> it is clear that if democrats had any skepticism about giving to super pacs or what big money to do in politics, they are over it. they are raising big money for the two super pacs supporting house and senate democrats. they have already had counter messaging in the air and some of these important states. >> 2012 they spent $2 billion. how much will they spend this
year? >> we will easily be in the billions ever since the supreme court unleashed the super pac phenomenon, there is no shortage of money. >> money is the mother's milk thank you, julie and rich miller. julianna goldman on joe biden's trip to the ukraine. margaret carlson and ramesh ponnuru on the gay marriage impact in 2014. ♪
>> welcome back. we will get to margaret carlson and ramesh ponnuru in a moment. first, julianna goldman is taking a trip with joe biden to ukraine. >> the vice president is traveling to the ukraine. the administration says this trip is designed to show u.s. solidarity and support for the people of ukraine. they are particularly emphasizing the $1 billion loan guarantee the treasury announced earlier this week. the vice president is going over there to say that this money is not just helping the people of kiev but also helping eastern and southern ukraine. >> will he be bringing other gifts like lethal assistance? >> they are ruling out any kind
of lethal aid. they say the best way the u.s. can be of assistance is through economic aid. sending any time of military weaponry would send a signal that this is a proxy war between the u.s. and russia or send a signal that the u.s. thinks this situation can be resolved militarily. they are not signals they want to be sending to russia right now. >> the vanna white of russia, vladimir putin, and his weekly call-in show had an interesting color a few days ago. >> none other than edward snowden asking whether or not moscow collected information and intelligence kind of the same way they do here in the u.s. they had a rather interesting and candid reaction saying it was like something out of "alice in wonderland," the fact that snowden said in a rational world he would totally be discredited for serving as a straight man for putin's surreal denial.
>> putin said they would never do anything like that. we can take that to the bank except that their bank is broke now. obama had a joint interview with joe biden. doesn't happen very often but it sort of reminds you that he had one with hillary clinton. >> the last he had a joint interview with anyone other than his wife was with hillary clinton. that was kind of seen as a snub of joe biden in choosing favorites for the next potential presidential nominee from the democratic party. this was perhaps a way to make amends and show that there are no frenemies here but the bromance is alive and strong. >> let me turn to margaret and ramesh. i'm old enough to remember 10 years ago -- i know, margaret, you're not -- when gay marriage
was a killer for the democrats or was at least perceived to be. this fall, will this be a plus or minus for democratic candidates? >> in most places it's neutral to a plus. if you look to the polls, the future is speaking to us. 75% of young people 18 to 29 favor gay marriage. this is a shift over the last decade. >> ramesh? >> i think it is a minus this fall. the public opinion trend margaret mentioned is very real. if you look at where a lot of the races taking place -- south dakota, west virginia, north carolina, louisiana, arkansas -- i don't think same sex marriage will be a plus in those places. even in places where same sex marriage is popular, i don't think there are a lot of true swing voters for whom that's a deal breaking issue, actually base their vote on that issue. >> is this issue symbolic where good news to the republican short-term but problems down the
road? >> it changes so rapidly that it could go from being a positive issue to a nonissue, something that's no longer a live issue in politics. >> at the presidential freedom summit in new hampshire, they are talking about it as a states right issue. they are dropping that it's a biblical evil. running for the white house, i disagree with ramesh there. i think it is a negative to campaign against gay rights and gay marriage. >> two people who were really highlighted in new hampshire were, i guess, i would call them outsiders, nonestablishment candidates rand paul and ted cruz. as you look at the possible 2016 field, who are the most formidable? >> i may be biased, but i do think cruz will have the edge over paul partially because he
brings less baggage that will be problematic for a lot of conservatives on foreign policy, the kookier associations of rrand paul's father. paul has a real organization thanks his father but i think i would vote on cruz. >> they are stronger than once we've had in the past. >> if either is nominated, the republican party will have a meltdown in 2016. neither one will be broadly appealing to the electorate. rand paul is the more likable of the two. he has that elfish, playful way about him. he has crackpot ideas >> you think rand paul is more formidable?
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